Fresh Air
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The Best TV & Movies Of 2018

Fresh Air

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The Best TV & Movies Of 2018

Fresh Air

Fresh Air from WHYY, the Peabody Award-winning weekday magazine of contemporary arts and issues, is one of public radio's most popular programs. Hosted by Terry Gross, the show features intimate conversations with today's biggest luminaries.

Fresh Air

TV critic David Bianculli and film critic Justin Chang sit down with Terry Gross to share their picks for the best of the year.

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'Iraq's Post-ISIS Campaign of Revenge'
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'New Yorker' reporter Ben Taub says hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians, including women and children, are being detained, tortured, killed or cast out for suspected association with ISIS. Also, rock critic Ken Tucker reflects on the year in music....

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Emily Blunt On 'Mary Poppins Returns'
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Blunt stars as the practical and fantastical nanny in 'Mary Poppins Returns.' She spoke with Terry Gross about floating in the sky as Poppins, singing for Stephen Sondheim in 'Into the Woods,' and her audition for 'The Devil Wears Prada.'...

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Best Of: Actor Richard E. Grant / Rockabilly Christmas With JD McPherson
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Richard E. Grant co-stars as the alcoholic sidekick to Melissa McCarthy in 'Can You Ever Forgive Me?', which tells the story of a broke writer who makes money by forging literary letters. Grant talks about growing up in Swaziland, witnessing his mother have an affair and narrowly escaping an attack by his own father. Book critic Maureen Corrigan shares her picks for the best books of the year. Songwriter JD McPherson pledged he'd never do an album of Christmas songs — but we're so glad he's broken that pro...

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Bruce Springsteen
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"The Boss" spoke with Terry Gross at his New Jersey home studio in 2016, when his memoir came out, about masculinity, depression, and wishing he was his stage persona. His one-man show, 'Springsteen on Broadway,' will debut on Netflix Dec. 16. Also, Justin Chang reviews 'Moonlight' director Barry Jenkins' new film, 'If Beale Street Could Talk,' an adaptation of the 1974 novel by James Baldwin....

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Actor Richard E. Grant
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Grant co-stars with Melissa McCarthy in 'Can You Ever Forgive Me?' about Lee Israel, a broke writer who makes money by forging literary letters by famous writers, with the help of her friend Jack. Grant is nominated for a SAG award and a Golden Globe for his performance. He talks with Terry Gross about growing up in Swaziland and witnessing his mother have an affair, narrowly escaping an attack by his own father, and finding refuge in theater....

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From Convict To Criminal Justice Reporter
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Keri Blakinger is a criminal justice reporter for the 'Houston Chronicle,' but before she reported on prisons, she spent almost 2 years locked up on narcotics charges. Blakinger spoke with Terry Gross about surviving a suicide attempt, solitary confinement, and finishing her degree at Cornell before becoming a reporter. Her reporting has led to prison reform in Texas. "I was so lucky to come out of this and I've been so privileged in so many ways to end up with hope and second chances and a happy ending," ...

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A Roots & Rockabilly Christmas Concert With JD McPherson
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Songwriter JD McPherson pledged he'd never do an album of Christmas songs — but we're so glad he's broken that promise. He and his band perform live in-studio from their album 'Socks,' and McPherson talks about his upbringing on a cattle farm in rural Oklahoma....

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How Driverless Cars Could Change Roads, Jobs & Daily Life
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Autonomous vehicles could be the "most disruptive technology to hit society worldwide since the advent of the motor car," says former New York City traffic commissioner Sam Schwartz. We talk about what driverless cars could mean for traffic, infrastructure and pedestrians. His book is 'No One at the Wheel.' Critic Maureen Corrigan picks her top 10 books of 2018....

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Best Of: Bradley Cooper / Samin Nosrat
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Bradley Cooper talks about writing, directing and starring in his remake of 'A Star is Born.' He not only had to learn how to direct, he had to learn how to sing and play guitar for his role as musician Jackson Maine opposite Lady Gaga. Salt, fat, acid, heat – those are the four elements to mastering cooking, according to James Beard-winning cookbook author Samin Nosrat. She's adapted her bestselling cookbook, 'Salt Fat Acid Heat,' into a four-part Netflix docuseries. She spoke with producer Sam Briger....

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The Bizarre World Of Industrial Musicals
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Why would someone write a sentimental ballad about a bathroom? For the same reason someone would write a rousing song about air conditioners: So the song could be used in what's called an industrial musical. These musicals were like Broadway shows but they were written and performed for corporate sale meetings and conventions from the '50s to the '80s. Sheldon Harnick, John Russell and Steve Young discuss these musicals written and performed at the behest of corporations. (Originally broadcast Nov. 5, 2013....

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Actor Lucas Hedges / Samin Nosrat Part 2
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Hedges is best known for his roles in 'Manchester by the Sea' and 'Lady Bird,' and now stars in the movie 'Ben is Back' as a teenager in rehab for opioid addiction. He's also nominated for a Golden Globe for 'Boy Erased,' about a teenager subjected to gay conversion therapy by his conservative Baptist parents. Hedges talks about growing up obsessed with actors, his ADHD, and crying onscreen versus real life. Samin Nosrat, host of the Netflix docuseries 'Salt Fat Acid Heat,' says those are the four key eleme...

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Rock Hudson's Double Life
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Hudson lived a double life as a Hollywood heartthrob and a closeted gay man. Biographer Mark Griffin says Hudson's death from AIDS in 1985 was a turning point in public awareness of the epidemic. His book is 'All That Heaven Allows.' TV critic David Bianculli reviews the new season of Amazon's Emmy-winning series 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.'...

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'Remaking Journalism' In An Age Of Information Chaos
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In 'Breaking News,' former Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger reflects on the blockbuster stories he helped publish over the course of his 20-year tenure running the British newspaper (including the Snowden and Assange leaks). "Journalism has to remake itself if it is to be the answer to the world of information chaos that we're in danger of living in," he says. Also, jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews the album 'The Space' by pianist Kenny Werner....

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Fresh Air

Bradley Cooper On 'A Star Is Born' / Samin Nosrat On 'Salt Fat Acid Heat'
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Bradley Cooper talks about writing, directing and starring in his remake of 'A Star is Born.' He not only had to learn how to direct, he had to learn how to sing and play guitar for his role as musician Jackson Maine. Cooper talks about changing his voice for the film, what he learned from Clint Eastwood about directing, and casting his dog, Charlie. Salt, fat, acid, heat – those are the four elements to mastering cooking, according to James Beard-winning cookbook author Samin Nosrat. She's adapted her bes...

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Best Of: Rami Malek On 'Bohemian Rhapsody' / The 'Profound' Power Of The Immune System
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Rami Malek sang at the top of his lungs while playing Queen's iconic lead singer in the new biopic 'Bohemian Rhapsody.' Still, he says, "No one can sing like Freddie Mercury." Malek spoke with Terry Gross about learning to sing and move like Mercury, and wearing prosthetic teeth. Critic John Powers reviews 'Insurrecto' by Gina Apostol. The novel is about two women, a Filipina translator and an American filmmaker, on a road trip in the Philippines. Immunologist Daniel Davis says scientists are harnessing the...

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Fresh Air

Remembering Magician Ricky Jay
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Ricky Jay, the magician, sleight-of-hand artist, actor, and writer died Saturday at the age of 72. "There are a number of effects in the panoply of magic where the method is really better than the effect," Jay told Terry Gross in 1998. "Something happens where what's happening behind the scenes is 20 times more interesting than what you're actually seeing, and you're dying to say to the audience, 'Boy, if you could just see!' and you really can't." Also, film critic Justin Chang reviews 'Roma,' written and ...

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'Widower's Notebook' Draws A Portrait Of Grief And Guilt
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Five years ago, Jonathan Santlofer's wife died suddenly, throwing him into a "fugue state" of grief. Sketching her portrait from old photographs has helped him stay close to her. His memoir is 'The Widower's Notebook.' Also, book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews the novel 'Come With Me' by Helen Schulman, about regrets and risk-taking in the Internet age....

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Trauma Surgeon Takes On The NRA
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After the NRA tweeted that "self-important anti-gun doctors" should "stay in their lane," trauma surgeon Dr. Joseph Sakran started #ThisIsOurLane, mobilizing doctors around the issue of gun safety. Sakran became a surgeon after being shot in the throat when he was 17. Also, critic John Powers reviews 'Insurrecto' by Gina Apostol. The novel is about two women, a Filipina translator and an American filmmaker on a road trip in the Philippines....

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Inside Nancy Pelosi's Bid For Speakership
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Journalist Robert Draper talks about why Republicans love to attack Pelosi, the challenges she faces from within her own party, and her bid to be speaker of the House. Draper wrote a cover story about Pelosi for the 'New York Times Magazine.'Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews 'Sophisticated Giant,' a new biography of the late saxophonist Dexter Gordon....

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The 'Profound' Power Of The Immune System
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Immunologist Daniel Davis says scientists are harnessing the power of the immune system to create new medications to fight cancer, auto-immune conditions and other diseases. He also talks about how the immune system is affected by stress, sleep, and age. Davis' book is 'The Beautiful Cure.' Also, rock critic Ken Tucker shares an appreciation of country artist Lefty Frizzell. The new box set, 'An Article From Life,' spans his career....

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Best Of: The Coen Brothers / Free Climbing Yosemite's 'Dawn Wall'
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Filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen ('Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?,' 'No Country for Old Men') pay homage to old Westerns with their new film, 'The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.' The movie is a collection of six stories that often subvert the expectations of the genre.Rock climbers Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson talk about scaling the 3,000 foot sheer vertical face of Yosemite's El Capitan that was long thought impossible to ascend. The documentary about their historic climb is 'The Dawn Wall.'...

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Jazz Singer Cécile McLorin Salvant
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McLorin Salvant grew up in Miami as the child of a Haitian father and a French mother. She first studied classical voice, but turned to jazz because it offered her more range. "I never wanted to sound clean and pretty," she told Terry Gross in 2015. "In jazz, I felt I could sing these deep, husky lows if I want, and then these really tiny, laser highs if I want, as well." Her new record is 'The Window,' which critic Kevin Whitehead says is "riveting."...

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Musicians Robbie Fulks & Linda Gail Lewis
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Robbie Fulks and Linda Gail Lewis come from different generations, but both play the old style of country music — her brother is Jerry Lee Lewis. The duo performed for Terry Gross in the 'Fresh Air' studio in September, sharing stories and songs from their new album, 'Wild! Wild! Wild!'...

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Actor Rami Malek On Becoming Freddie Mercury
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Malek sang at the top of his lungs while playing Queen's iconic lead singer in the new biopic 'Bohemian Rhapsody.' Still, he says, "No one can sing like Freddie Mercury." Malek spoke with Terry Gross about recreating the 1985 Live Aid concert, learning to move like Mercury, and wearing prosthetic teeth. He also talks about playing a withdrawn and socially anxious hacker in the thriller series 'Mr.Robot,' and how he got started in acting....

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Fresh Air

Free Climbing Yosemite's 'Dawn Wall'
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Rock climbers Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson talk about scaling the 3,000 foot sheer vertical face of Yosemite's El Capitan that was long thought impossible to ascend. The duo discuss sleeping in portaledges — tents suspended more than a thousand feet in the air — and the personal risks and rewards of rock climbing. The new documentary about their historic climb is 'The Dawn Wall.' John Powers reviews two new crime dramas based on true stories — the Showtime series 'Escape at Dannemora,' starring Patric...

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